Can I Get COVID Again?
You slogged through it and survived: the fever, the cough, the achiness, the fatigue maybe even shortness of breath. Perhaps you thought to yourself – well, at least I’m immune to COVID now.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case; it’s possible to get reinfected with COVID.
“Now with the Omicron variant, we’re seeing more reinfections than with the original COVID virus and Delta variant,” said David Basel, MD, Avera Medical Group Vice President for Clinical Quality. “There have been a number of mutations, and Omicron is different enough that people are getting it again.”
Natural Immunity May Not Be Enough
Natural immunity does offer some protection, but not enough. “What will offer the most protection against the Omicron variant and possible future variants is to be both vaccinated and boosted,” Basel said.
“You can also protect yourself from reinfection with other measures, such as wearing a mask in public, avoiding large gatherings while community spread is high, and social distancing,” Basel said.
Also with Omicron is a greater incidence of breakthrough cases among people who are vaccinated and even boosted. “Don’t get me wrong, vaccines are still protecting people from COVID. Even for those who do get a breakthrough case, in most cases illness is milder,” Basel said.
Vaccine Plus Booster Is Your Best Protection
A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that people who are unvaccinated are 10 times more likely to die from COVID, 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and five times more likely to get COVID. “The vaccine and booster are still doing what they are supposed to do, and that’s prevent hospitalizations and deaths,” Basel said.
The possibility of future variants after Omicron is the bad news; the good news is that we have vaccines and boosters as well as effective antiviral medications that will be available in greater supply as the future unfolds. It’s hoped these tools eventually will fight back COVID to the point where it’s endemic – like the flu – rather than pandemic.
Because you can get COVID again, don’t assume that symptoms like sore throat, runny nose and cough are the common cold or flu. It could be Omicron.
“For now, the best thing you can do for yourself and others is threefold and worth repeating,” Basel said. Get vaccinated and boosted, stay home and isolate for five days when you’re sick, and use mitigation measures.
Learn more about vaccination and COVID at Avera.org/COVID19